The press and industry previews are over in Detroit. This weekend, the Cobo Center opened its doors to the public, allowing thousands of guests to decent upon the fleets of new cars inside. As per tradition, our team compared notes and picked the 5 best and 5 worst things we saw at the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
1. Aston Martin’s display
There wasn’t much British heritage in Detroit. With Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Mini all sitting this one out, it was up to Aston Martin to hoist the Union Jack. It was with great disappointment that we discovered Aston had seemingly thrown in the towel. Their cars sat locked, fenced, and dimly lit. What an odd way to attend an auto show.
2. Cookie cutters
That’s a pretty good looking Mercedes C-Class. Or is it an S-Class? Say hello to the new E-Class, from
Xerox Mercedes. Any decent sketch artist could have drawn you a near-perfect picture of the E-Class before it was even unveiled just because Mercedes has adopted cookie cutter styling. Sure, it might save money in the design department, but who wants their $100,000 S-Class confused for a C-Class that costs half as much?
3. BMW M2’s interior
The M2 is heralded as BMW’s spiritual successor to the original M3 and the M engineer’s first attempt at replicating the parts-bin success of the 1M. This is billed as a full-on “M” car, unlike the M235i half-breed. While the car’s DCT transmission, electronic locking rear differential, brakes, and wheels and tires are M specific, the interior is barely discernible. The M2’s seats exactly are the same as the M235 and 3 Series Sport Line cars, with the M logo embossed in the back to help you not notice.
4. Kia Sportage’s face
The Kia Sportage was a sharp looking CUV with an optional turbocharged engine and sport-tuned suspension for added driver engagement. You wouldn’t know it looking at the updated styling. By rounding out the headlights and adding Kia’s gaping new grille, the Sportage now has a laughably dopey facade.
5. Prius C prototype
With the debut of the 2017 Prius, the current-gen Prius C’s days are numbered. A more sharply styled compact hybrid is on its way. In the mean time, someone decided that the current Prius C needed a bit of spice. Pink lipstick and eyeliner were clearly not the answer.
5. Honda Ridgeline
If you didn’t expect a new pickup truck to be debuted in Detroit, then you don’t know Motor City. With a more traditional design and plenty of unique features, the new Honda Ridgeline could be the dark horse in the race to topple the Tacoma. But’s a bold move from Honda to launch their second-gen truck at the show that Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram call home. That takes guts, and it was one of our favorite power moves.
4. BMW M2
We might be harsh on the interior, but the M2 still excites us. With a 365hp twin-turbo inline six and either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, this sport compact takes the fight to the Audi S3 and Mercedes CLA 45 AMG. The recipe followed is largely unchanged since 1985, which means BMW has cooked up a tasty, and relatively affordable, treat.
3. Ford GT’s high downforce mode
The Ford GT stunned us at its debut last year. This year, the production-ready GT drew crowds in white with black wheels. The road car features active aerodynamics and active suspension to aid performance. In high downforce mode, the GT lowers itself substantially and raises its rear wing. Under braking, the rear of the wing flairs up to help slow the car. We haven’t seen it operated until now, and we can’t wait to see it in action on the road.
2. No Lexus LFA
For the first time in recent memory, something was missing from the Lexus booth. Dragged out year after year like some kind of retired circus animal, and still featured on the F Performance section of their website, the LFA was treated as Lexus’ reminder to the world that they could build a supercar. The lack of LFA on the floor signals, to us, that Lexus is ready to move on and stand on its current offerings. We were so thrilled to see this positive step forward that we’ve awarded it one of the top spots on our list. The debut of the sexy LC500 helps, too.
1. Ford city
It’s Detroit. Ford always goes big in Detroit. Last year they earned our top spot for rolling out the GT, GT350R, and Raptor in a single, show-stopping press conference. This year, it wasn’t the Fusion Sport or production-ready Raptor and GT that earned Ford the top spot; it was the booth they displayed them in. But calling Ford’s display a booth is a massive understatement. Ford built a two-level city inside the Cobo Center, complete with a private lounge, two escalators, a generous seating area, and multiple tables of drinks and snacks to draw weary journalists. There were driving and trailing simulators, presentation spaces, and still enough room left over for one of every Ford model. Oh, and they fed us pizza for lunch! The sheer scale of Ford’s operation this year earned them the number one spot on our list.